- 2 Tbsp butter, ghee, or oil
- 1 lemon, zested (optional)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- 3-4 lb chicken
- 1 onion, sliced (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and remove
birdfrom fridge to bring it to room temperature before cooking.
- Melt butter or ghee and mix with lemon zest, salt, thyme, and rosemary. Set aside.
- Pat bird with paper towels to dry out the surface. In a baking dish, place bird breast side up and tuck back wings.
- Using your hands, rub butter mixture all over the surface of the skin. Option to rub butter mixture under the skin on top of the breast if desired.
- If using, puncture the lemon a few times with a fork and place it in the cavity of the bird along with the garlic cloves. Spread onions around the outside of the bird in the baking dish.
- Roast 40-50 minutes until the skin is golden brown and the juices run clear. You can also pull it from the oven when a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees - the "safe zone" of poultry is 165 but the bird will continue to cook when you let it rest so pulling it a little early will prevent it from over cooking.
- Once done, set bird aside for 5-10 minutes to let it rest. Resting allows the muscle fibers in the meat to relax and reabsorb the juices; it makes for a more tender bird!
- If desired, pour the chicken juices and onions from the pan into a blender along with the garlic cloves and juice of the lemon. Blend on high until smooth.
- Serve chicken with onion sauce on top. Save carcass for chicken broth.
Pasture Raised Chickens
One element of food that always comes up is the topic of affordability.
With animal proteins in particular, the diet of the animal directly impacts the nutrition content of the meat (or eggs/dairy). Grass fed beef has come into the spotlight in recent years due to the higher omega-3 content of grass fed cows. But pork and poultry are equally important!
We call chickens pasture raised instead of grass fed because they are omnivores and eat other things besides grass, like bugs. I’m not going to get into animal rights so let’s objectively focus on the health aspect. In conventional chicken operations, there are a lot of chickens raised in very tight quarters often pooping where they eat and sleep. This degree of contamination increases the risk of E. coli for the consumer (you) and also increases the frequency of chickens becoming ill, which increases the need for antibiotics. They also mix growth hormones and arsenic into the soy and corn feed to increase how quickly the chicken grow. The faster they grow, the more they can sell to keep up with market demand. The good news? More people can eat chicken for cheaper. The bad news? All of that crap ends up in the meat that you eat.
Pasture raised chickens, on the other hand, have room to run around and are not pooping where they eat so they have a decreased chance of contamination and illness. They also do not have any hormones or arsenic to plump them up, running around is what beefs up their leg meat from exercise. Because they are eating grass instead of soy and corn, pasture raised meat has a higher omega 3 content, which means an anti-inflammatory effect in your body. But watch out for similar labels like “cage free” or “free ranged.” All that means is that they have a door in their confined coop. Pasture raised is the key term.
The good news? Pasture-raised chickens are better for your health.
The bad news? They are more expensive.
So let’s talk about Roasted Chicken affordability
Here are some tips to eat high-quality chicken without breaking the bank:
- Eat less. It’s simple – eat more vegetables, grains, and legumes and less meat. This doesn’t mean to not eat any meat, it just means to think of it as a side dish or condiment instead of the main focus.
- Buy a whole bird. A whole bird is cheaper per pound and you can use the carcass to make chicken broth to stretch your dollar and health benefits even further.
- Buy Bone in, Skin on. If you don’t want to buy a whole bird, buy cuts of meat with the bone in and skin on. It’s cheaper plus it has more flavor! Save your bones and keep them in a ziplock bag in your freezer. When it is full, make a round of broth.
- Buy cheaper cuts. If you don’t want to buy a whole bird or bone in/skin on, buy chicken thighs instead of breasts. They are cheaper and have more omega 3 goodness.
- Buy directly from the farmer. The best way to get cheaper meat is to cut out the middle man of retailers and distributors. Plus, you can see where your animals are living and it makes you more connected to your food. Ask around your local farmer’s market for a meat CSA or check out Eat Wild to find a farmer near you in any state.